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President signs executive order on insurance deregulation, potentially undermining Obama era health laws


President Donald Trump speaks in Indianapolis on Sept. 27. Trump signed an executive order Thursday morning calling for the scaling back of regulations on health insurance providers under the current health legislation passed under former President Obama. Evan De Stefano Buy Photos

President Donald Trump signed an executive order Thursday morning calling for the scaling back of regulations on health insurance providers from the current health legislation passed under former President Barack Obama.

The president was joined by administration secretaries, Sen. Rand Paul, R-Kentucky, and Vice President Mike Pence.

"Every day Obamacare survives is another day the American people struggle," Pence said. "And all the job creators gathered here today at the White House have witnessed the failures of Obamacare firsthand."

As governor of Indiana, Pence accepted federal funding under the Affordable Care Act's Medicaid expansion. Under the expansion, more than 400,000 Hoosiers received Medicaid coverage.

The directive, which comes after Congress failed multiple times to repeal current legislation, is broad and leaves much of the deregulation up to heads of agencies. 

The president appeared to preview the signing of this order on Twitter on Tuesday.

The order specifically mentions easing regulations on aspects of the Affordable Care Act, including those on association health plans. These plans allow small businesses and individuals to purchase insurance coverage together across state lines.

Before current legislation was passed under the Obama administration, association health plans were allowed to pick and choose the state regulations they would follow, often opting to go with the state with the least stringent regulations. 

After the passage of the Affordable Care Act, the plans were required to provide the minimum coverage under the act, preventing these associations from trying to aim toward insuring younger, low-cost customers. 

The specifics of the health deregulation are still unclear, but allowing providers to offer insurance on multiple levels of coverage could make it difficult for healthy customers' payments to offset the costs of sicker ones, which was key under the regulations passed in 2010. This could result in sicker people paying more for their own coverage.

Sen. Joe Donnelly, D-Indiana, released a statement after the order was signed Thursday saying he was concerned the administration's push for a partisan or go-it-alone plan would result in Hoosiers paying more for coverage.

“The President has said all along that it’s his goal for our health care system to explode, and for the last 10 months the Administration has actively worked to undermine the law at every turn," Donnelly said in his statement. "My top priority is to stabilize the insurance markets, and the best way to do that is to work together to strengthen the health care law."

Rep. Todd Rokita, R-4th District, called the legislation passed under Obama "one of the most insidious pieces of legislation to ever pass through Congress" in a statement released after Donnelly's. 

"We did our part in the House by passing the American Health Care Act (AHCA), but the Senate failed us because political elites and special interests trumped common sense legislation," Rokita said in his statement. "While we continue the fight to repeal and replace ObamaCare, President Trump's executive order is a positive step to ensure that all Americans have more control, more choices and more affordable healthcare."

Jesse Naranjo

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